County urges state action on annexation
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Apr 02, 2013 | 760 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Commission officially showed support for state legislation being considered to limit a city’s power to annex by requiring the issue to go to the voters through a referendum during a voting session Monday night.

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution in support of the state legislation. Commissioner Bill Winters was absent.

Along with the support comes worry as cities across the state increase annexation efforts in an attempt to add to their jurisdiction by city ordinance before the law passes requiring a referendum.

Commissioners also passed a motion by 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones to send a letter to the Cleveland City Council requesting that land plats already approved by the county inspections office be honored by the city when land is annexed.

The city has different development requirements and specifications than the rest of the county. If the plats are not accepted, it would mean additional costs to builders.

Cities currently have three ways to annex property outlined in the growth plan as an urban growth boundary, according to Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg. These include by referendum, petition and city ordinance. Cities can only annex within the urban growth boundary.

According to the Bradley County resolution, “The proposed legislation would give landowners in Bradley County input and a vote on any proposed annexation within the growth plan of any city located in Bradley County, and would prevent annexations without the majority approval of the affected land owners.”

“We are only one of three states that do not do this as of now,” Peak-Jones said.

First District Commissioner Terry Caywood said he hopes this will not be an issue the state Legislature studies for a year, then forgets.

“I hope they’ll listen to all these communities across the state that are saying, ‘We favor this,’” Caywood said.

Fifth District Commissioner Jeff Yarber asked Freiberg if there is a way to amend the growth plan to change the urban growth boundary.

She said there is a way, but it is a potentially long process.

“You definitely can. It’s a process though, and the first step is for the county and the city to get together and look at it, and see if they want to make changes to it,” Freiberg said.

Sixth District Commissioner Mel Griffith reminded the Commission the plan had been amended not too long ago. The county attorney said the Commission had to wait two years after an amendment to the plan before requesting further changes.